Less than a decade ago, the prospects for the Museum of Art/Fort Lauderdale were grim. There was talk of a third-party takeover, or of even closing the place down altogether. Then came, in short succession, "Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes," "Diana: A Celebration," and, most triumphant of all, "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," which went on to make history as South Florida's most popular exhibition ever. Which raised the question: How do you top Tut? You don't, exactly, but you don't just throw in the towel, either. After the double whammy of "Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge" and "Cradle of Christianity: Treasures from the Holy Land" — the former a sleeper, the latter a disappointment — the museum reestablished its artistic credibility last year with a pair of audacious exhibitions. "The Quilts of Gee's Bend" featured 60 or so quilts more reminiscent of Abstract Expressionist painting than of traditional quilting, and "Inspired by China: Contemporary Furnituremakers Explore Chinese Traditions" challenged 22 artisans to put their spin on traditional Chinese furniture. The museum thrives on other fronts as well. Its small art school continues to grow, and its previously underused Horvitz Auditorium sits empty less and less often, thanks to the Inside Out Theatre Company's residency and other special events. And the museum still knows how to throw a mean exhibition opening, as evidenced by its knockout "Gee's Bend" bash.